The august Royal Canadian Mint, birthplace of the lovely golden loonie (but not the snappy new plastic bills) and soon to be the graveyard for the penny, is moving to take metal out of the coin equation altogether. They’re now promoting a plan to implement the MintChip, a system for exchanging value via electronic devices with ease and security:
MintChip brings all the benefits of cash into the digital age. Instant, private and secure, MintChip value can be stored and moved quickly and easily over email, software applications, or by physically tapping devices together.
Wisely, perhaps, the Mint is getting into the virtual coinage business via a crowd-sourcing challenge: software developers are invited to “create innovative digital payment applications using MintChip” and “to share ideas for how a digital currency can be used.” Winners will get the opposite of virtual money, however, reaping $50,000 in gold bullion. (Even more curiously, perhaps, the developer “starter packages” indicate that the Mint will be developing for all platforms except iOS. Might be a good time to point out to them that Apple is poised to become the first trillion-dollar corporation.)
Of course, the aim here is to monetize the tiny because, as the Brits say, many a little makes a mickle. If you have to pay for each click of your mouse, as it were, the vendor and the enabler (i.e. the Mint) will eventually get rich. Think also cups of coffee, rather than lawyers’ fees. However, this could, I suppose, bring billing by the hour down to a much finer billing by the moment… Just saying.